J’s neighbour stopped by today and soon into the conversation she asked me about my Masters research. In my haphazard way I was trying to describe the cross-cultural space that is generated on the Lurujarri Heritage Trail and during the Arnhem Weaving Workshops, and how I wanted to explore experiences of ‘being with’ (people/county) from the perspectives of those participating/creating/performing (???) in this space. K jumped straight in and began to ask me if I had read any Bharba or Bourdieu… “no, not yet.” This week I’ve been attempting to comprehend the ideas of Addleson, Stengers, Whitehead, Latour, Muecke and others, but not Bharba and Bourdieu. Lucky for me K is very good at giving an applied interpretation of theory and very quickly I realised that this Bharbha fellow might be onto something.
Enter, ‘the third space’, a place (?) in which people from multiple cultures engage and co-create a cultural reality that is somehow ‘new’. I have only just lightly scratched the surface of Bharbha’s ideas on hybridity and a third space. Has anyone out there applied or critiqued his theory???
K used Bharbha’s idea of a ‘third space’ as a theoretical platform for her PhD and in the end disagreed with his ideas. In her research with Indigenous people and miners at the Argyle Mine in W.A. she found that Indigenous people were, “‘incorporating’ Miners and the mine into their cultural ‘reality’ in order to engage with the Miners and mine is ways that are consistent with, and indeed reinforce, their own laws and customs” (Doohan, 2006:78). Straight away the practice of adopting non-Indigenous people, so that they are incorporated into a kinship system and have a place in an Indigenous universe, came to mind. In reference to her quote above, K resists that idea that there is any cultural enmeshing that happens in this space.
As for Bourdieu, Doohan (2006: 79) writes of the various intellectual tools for social research, ‘habitus,’ ‘fields,’ and ‘social and cultural capital’, which he offers as a ways of, “reconciling the sometimes contradictory and always-complex data regarding peoples lived lives… His analysis of fields of engagement and the inevitable transformative effects of social science practice has influenced my own practice in the field and in writing about Aborigines and Miners” (Doohan, 2006: 79). I am interested in questioning the whether there are any transformations that happen in my research space… what’s happening? For whom? What is catalysing the transformation? Needs? Maintenance of a social order?